book review

Book Review: The Other Wind

68059I think this has been my favourite of the Earthsea novels. It tied all the previous stories together, and included two of my favourite characters – Tenar and Tehanu.

Again, there were times where I felt a little bored or lost, but when I was able to sit and really focus on reading it, I really did enjoy this book. I guess it’s not really a “light” read.

This story focused more on dragons, and how humans had broken an ancient promise by seeking immortality. Women – who were previously seen as lesser than men – are invited to Roke, and help to bring peace amongst dragon and mankind.

The history of dragons and men being one species was a really interesting concept, as was the “other wind” that Irian and Tehanu long for. The ending was pretty sad, too – the bond between Tenar and Tehanu was so strong, but they knew that they would have to let each other go.

I definitely found this the most interesting out of the series. The writing is lovely (if a little archaic, but that fits the universe Le Guin has created) and I love some of the characters. 3.5 stars.

Check out the whole series here.

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Book Review: Wintergirls

22310019Another book based on eating disorders, which I’d definitely not recommend for anyone recovering or struggling with these issues. It also includes a lot of self harm and suicidal references, so just be warned.

This was another amazing book. I personally suffer with both anorexia and self harm, so this was so incredibly relatable to me. One major difference is Lia’s relationship with Cassie – her best friend who suffers with bulimia. The two of them encourage each other through their weight loss journeys, giving tips and even challenging each other to become the thinnest. I could not imagine having a relationship like this. I know several other eating disordered people, one of whom is a good friend, and we would never dream of acting like this. It was quite sick, honestly – I hate all the pro-ana stuff. But I suppose some people do it.

A quick observation: they never actually use the terms “anorexia” or “bulimia” which is interesting. There’s often a sort of rivalry portrayed between the two disorders, and the diagnosis of anorexia is held as some sort of accomplishment. It was refreshing to read a book that doesn’t mention that, and even sees them ‘working together’.

At the very start of the book, Cassie dies. Lia eventually learns how exactly that happens, but refuses to let it affect her because her and Cassie had fallen out a while ago. Lia’s eating habits seem to be getting worse (again) and her family think it’s Cassie’s death that’s triggered her, but Lia denies it. But when Cassie’s ghost starts haunting her and begging her to join her, Lia realises how out of hand it’s become.

The little details of the eating disorder were fantastic. The way Lia always quotes calories whenever talking/thinking of food, her estimating every other woman’s BMI against her own, even her initial “I want/need food” that she denies. It all felt so much like my own experience.

The ending was definitely one of those “inspiring” types; who ever would’ve thought Lia would actually work with the unit she’d been admitted to so many times and actually try to recover? I liked how honest this was, though. It wasn’t just a simple, clean recovery. There were fears and bad days and also the realisation that she had been avoiding real life, afraid of it. It’s hard to confront the underlying issues of a disorder like this.

I really loved this. It was just so accurate and inspiring and actually made me cry a bit. It did trigger me at times, but that’s probably just because I’m in a bit of a wobbly place right now. The ending has definitely provided me with hope, though. (Usually these books are focused on younger girls, but Lia is my age. It makes me feel like maybe I still have time to find my motive to recover.) 5 stars.Bookmarked Signature Logo

Book Review: Tales From Earthsea

68055This is the fifth installation of The Earthsea Cycle.In this book is a collection of short stories from different eras and locations within Earthsea. There are tons of links to other tales in this series throughout this book, including character crossovers. There’s even a whole section on describing Earthsea at the end, giving a real in-depth history of the land and it’s cultures.

I am getting a little bored with this series, but I think it’s just because of how the writing has a rather archaic feel. This writing really does help create the universe, but it’s just not my thing. I appreciate how effective it is in creating the world of Earthsea and immersing you in the book, though.

My favourite tale in this book is the final one, where a woman is allowed entrance into Roke School. I’m interested in seeing if equality returns to Earthsea – women with power are looked down upon, whereas sorcerers, wizards and especially mages are respected for their power.

I will stil finish reading this series, despite not loving it as much as I maybe should. 3 starsTales from Earthsea map

Book Review: Inkdeath

12516763This is the final book in Cornelia Funke ‘s Inkworld trilogy, and the longest of them all. I have to admit that this one did get a bit tedious at times, despite being well written. It was just too long.

Meggie has read Farid and herself into Inkworld, and Resa and Mo soon followed. They get into quite a lot of trouble, especially when Fenoglio – the author of ‘Inkheart’ – uses Mo as the template for a famous character in his songs.

The plot is very intricate. Motorola returns a few times, the Black Prince and all the robbers take in Meggie, Dustfinger meets Death on more than one occasion, Mo binds the Adderhead a book of immortality – the list goes on. But Death is quite a big character here, and there are a lot of dramatic scenes. I don’t want to spend too long summarising the novel, but I can say that it’s full of action and interesting twists. While this series still has a sort of innocent, fairy-tale feel to it, it is definitely a lot darker than any children’s story.

I liked how Mo, who had been so angry at Inkworld, becomes entranced by its beauty. When things start to get rough and Meggie and Resa want to return home, Mo is the one who pleads to stay. His second identity as the Bluejay – the infamous robber created by Fenoglio – is taking over, and even he finds himself in the company of Death.

The writing is great, and the ending really made me pity Farid. I think this was a bit too long, and I did get pretty disinterested at times in the middle. It’s a shame, because I know it was probably really interesting stuff, but I just didn’t have the capacity to stay interested for so long. Maybe that’s just me, but I’m sure I’ve had no trouble reading other long books.

Maybe I’ll reread this trilogy some other time when I have no other distractions and can appreciate it more. For now, I’ll give Inkdeath 3.5 stars.Bookmarked Signature Logo

Book Review: She Is Not Invisible

This was not how I expected it to be. I liked the uniqueness of it, though, and how unpredictable it turned out to be.
It starts in an airport, with the protagonist and narrator (who’s name we learn to be Laureth) and her little brother Benjamin. We soon discover that Laureth is blind, which provides us with a very interesting account of the events of this story. They are going to America, alone, to find their father. He’s a writer, and holds his notebooks very dearly – so when Laureth gets an email about one being found in America when he’s supposed to be in Switzerland (and then he fails to answer his phone) she immediately assumes something is very wrong.

This is told mostly chronologically, but with memories scattered throughout. Laureth also gives slight hints as to what will be happening later on, reinstating the fact that she is writing about past events. I quite liked this – we were told about certain memories and events that were relevant to the story at that time, nothing more, nothing less.

It turns into quite a dark, suspenseful hunt. Laureth starts to fear that her father may even have taken his own life. The pair even get cornered by a man with a knife who claims to have seen her father. His partner later breaks into their hotel room, searching for some valuable contents of her father’s safe. Coincidentally, they run in to her father just moments later.

The obsession of Laureth and Ben’s father is coincidences; a very interesting topic. He goes into great detail in his notebook (which we are shown throughout the book), discussing theories and particular physicists’ experiences. Bit by bit, he seems to be delving deeper and deeper into the mysteries of the universe. Laureth is caught up in this – she looks for clues in every page of her dad’s notebook. But is she looking too hard? Is she finding signs that aren’t really there?

Laureth relies on her brother to navigate the world, and although he is only going, he is superbly helpful to her. She is adamant on being an independent young lady, and even hides her impairment from most people she meets. As she is the narrator of this book, we are given an account that does not include any visual descriptions. Instead, the other senses are used far more – sounds and feelings especially. I really liked this.

The ending was wonderful. It was different – completely unexpected. I especially liked how her “coincidental” meeting with Sam turned out to mean nothing at all. And her father’s account of what had happened, and his realisation that his obsession was pointless, was so ironic. Laureth and Ben had been on this massive journey, worried their father was so caught up in his obsession that his life was in danger. They began to find strange patterns and signs everywhere – only to find out how coindences are completely fake. 

And the last page was so clever, too. It was numbered 354 which is clever in itself – this number holds a massive significance throughout this book – but then there’s also the hidden message that’s revealed. One of the last sentences prompts you to look closely at the book, and then you find a heartwarming little phrase. I really liked this idea – it seems a bit naff, but actually worked really well.

I did feel like this was maybe a little more for younger adults (I’m nearly 18) but it was really easy to follow and quick to read. It wasn’t lengthy or tiresome at all. 4 stars.

Book Review: The Girl of Ink and Stars

This is quite a short YA novel, a standalone book that I just picked up on impulse. I immediately got the impression that this was aimed at slightly younger teens – the protagonist was only thirteen, so I didn’t really connect that much. It’s that awkward age where you think you’re old, but you’re not. I could imagine thirteen-year-old me would enjoy this quite a bit.
Isabella lives alone with her father, a skilled cartographer. Her mother and twin brother had passed away, leaving the two alone. The Governor had taken control of the land, and his daughter, Lupe, attended the same school as Isabella. The two were very close, and Isabella’s angered outburst causes Lupe to run off into the Hidden Territories to prove she wasn’t “rotten”. A classmate of theirs had recently been found dead, and Lupe was going to find the killer.

Isabella, disguised as her deceased brother, shows Lupe’s note to her father and a small group begin going after her, Isabella included. They follow a map passed down to Isabella’s mother, through blackened forests scattered with bones. They do find Lupe, along with the Banished and, worst of all, the hell dogs from Isabella’s favourite myth.

This myth turns out to play an important role in their journey, and Lupe discovers something about her father when he sacrifices himself to fend off the wolves. They face Yote himself – the mythical fire demon – and Isabella finds herself returning home without Lupe.

It is quite a young teen book, as I said, and the plot develops all because of Isabella calling Lupe’s family “rotten”. This drama and exaggeration is pretty typical of a children’s/teen book, I find, and seemed a little immature to me. The writing was great, I just couldn’t get over the simplicity and immaturity of the plot at times.

For a teen book, it was quite dark at times – a lot of death was included. The ending was both happy and sad, which is nice. I get quite fed up of too many happy endings. 3 stars.

Book Review: Release

I’ve been meaning to read more of Ness’s novels, and this new release (hah!) looked really interesting. It definitely lived up to that reputation.
It’s kind of split in two, alternating between Adam’s story and the story of the Queen and the the faun – spirits, one of which is lost and accidentally bound to the spirit of a young girl who has been murdered, jeopardising the safety of the entire world. I don’t actually know how or why these two stories are connected. There seems to be a link here and there, and they even meet at one point, but I don’t actually see why these two sets of characters are of any real importance to each other. Each story was very interesting, but I just didn’t feel like they were relevant to each other.

The story following Adam was really good, and the banter between Adam and Angela especially was fantastic. He is a gay boy living in an incredibly religious family – his father is a preacher at the nearby church. He’s getting over a relationship, while simultaneously dating another boy who seems to love him very much. But Adam doesn’t feel like he deserves the love, and when his father suggests he deserved the sexual harassment from his boss he completely loses it. This interaction was really interesting, and I think Ness did a pretty good job of creating a dramatic and accurate scene. A religious father faced with news such as this would likely have reacted in a similar way to Big Brian Thorn.

Although I did enjoy this and Ness’s writing is superb, I don’t quite understand this book. I saw a few links and enjoyed Adam’s story, but really didn’t understand the Queen’s significance. 3 stars.

Book Review: Alice in The Looking Glass – A Mother and Daughter’s Experience of Anorexia

I’m probably more obsessed with ED books than is healthy, but it’s so reassuring to read other people’s experiences that are similar to my own. This book was absolutely fantastic – not only did it help me see that I’m not alone or abnormal, but I was also able to read a mother’s point of view on the experience. I understand now how awful it must have been for my own mother during my inpatient hospital stay and the initial battle of getting a diagnosis.
I found it interesting that they gave Jo (the mother)’s perspective first, instead of Alice herself. We learn about what she witnesses before we find out exactly what Alice was actually thinking and feeling.

They don’t include weights or numbers in this, which is tremendously helpful. Like Jo says, this is a competitive illness, and even parents seem to want to compete in having the “most poorly” child. But it’s so triggering for other people to read about how much weight someone lost, and it’s not really relevant. Weight loss is just a side affect of the illness, and not the main issue itself.

The reality is addressed so honestly in this book, all the feelings and experiences that we may be ashamed to admit are written in black and white. It made me feel a lot less guilty about things that I’ve felt, knowing other people have felt the same way, too. And the recovery aspect was not unrealistically easy or happy; Alice is not completely recovered even at the end of the book, but is managing her illness. That is how most of us will live for a long time, if not for the rest of our lives. But Alice expresses how she is so much happier “managing” her anorexia than she was when she was suffering years ago. It gives hope – even if you don’t fully recover, life can be good. 

I really loved this book. I’d urge anyone with a loved one who is suffering from an eating disorder (or has one themselves) to read this, as it would really help seeing both perspectives on the journey. 5 stars.

Book Review: Othello

Like The Great Gatsby, I am studying this for part of my A Level course and have this particular edition which includes notes and definitions. 

And like with my last review, this is only going to be short. (Mostly because I’m so tired of studying this book that I don’t want to spend extra time on it now.)

In classic Shakespearean style, there’s a hell of a lot of misunderstanding and, of course, death. There’s even a love-driven suicide at the end, which Shakespeare was rather fond of including it seems.

This play is renowned for addressing a number of topics such as race, class differences, love and jealousy. Mostly, it is about the latter.

It’s always hard to get into these plays, but other than that it’s pretty good. Iago is possibly one of Shakespeare’s best villains, has he is so cunning and clever with his acts. 3 stars.

Book Review: The Great Gatsby

I’m studying this book as part of my A Level course, so I’ll avoid going into too much detail on here. The edition we were told to buy includes an introduction and notes on the book, including notes on certain names and terminology included. If you are studying this book at all, an edition like this is really useful.

The story is renowned for its representation of the ‘Jazz Age’ – the 1920s. Fitzgerald captures that time wonderfully, while showing the true colours of the “American Dream” (similar to Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men in that aspect).

Nick, the narrator, moves to Long Island. His cousin Daisy lives nearby, and he lives next to a mysterious man who has recently come into a lot of money. This man turns out to be Jay Gatsby – a regular party host and past lover of Nick’s cousin.

Daisy’s husband, Tom, is seeing another woman. Most people know about it – it’s pretty much an “open secret” by now. But her husband starts to catch on, just as a terrible accident pushes him right over the edge…

At first, this was pretty boring to read. Especially since I had no choice but to read it. But as I read on, it got more and more enjoyable. I began to appreciate the writing more, and actually got a little emotional with the final death. I can understand why this book has been so popular, such a symbolic piece of literature from the Jazz Age.

It’s not that old (compared to.other classic novels) so isn’t too hard to follow. The style is a bit old fashioned, obviously, but I personally still enjoyed it. 4.5 stars.